Tag Archives: Todd Tiahrt

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday May 23, 2011

Wichita City council. As it is the fourth Tuesday of the month, the Wichita City Council handles only consent agenda items. The council will also hold a workshop. Consent agendas are usually reserved for items thought to be of non-controversial nature. Today’s Wichita Eagle spotlights one item where the city is proposing to hire an outside firm to inspect the roof of the airport for damage from last September’s storm. Some, including Council Member Michael O’Donnell (district 4, south and southwest Wichita) wonder why the city can’t do the inspection with it’s own engineering staff and resources. … Of further note is that the city proposes to use general obligation bonds to borrow the funds to pay for this inspection. This is similar to last December, when the city decided to also use bonds to borrow money to pay for an analysis of nine aging fire stations and what repairs and upgrades they might require. While borrowing to pay for long-term capital projects is fine, this is borrowing for thinking about long-term projects. … The workshop will cover Century II parking meters, something involving the North Industrial Corridor, and a presentation on next year’s budget. The detailed agenda packet is at Wichita City Council May 24, 2011. No similar information is available for the workshop topics. … Next week is the fifth Tuesday of a month and the day after a holiday, so there’s two reasons to explain why there won’t be a city council meeting next week.

Sedgwick County Commission. In its Wednesday meeting, the Sedgwick County Commission will consider approval of the county’s portion of the Hawker Beechcraft deal. In order to persuade Hawker to stay in Kansas rather than move to Louisiana, the State of Kansas offered $40 million in various form of incentive and subsidy, and it was proposed at the time that the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County each add $2.5 million. Last week the Wichita City Council approved its share, which can only be described as corporate welfare. It was widely reported that Hawker had received an offer, said by some to be worth as much as $400 million, to move to Louisiana. But that offer was not a valid threat of Hawker leaving Kansas, as in a December 2010 television news report, Louisiana’s governor said “they couldn’t guarantee the number of jobs that would have been required for them to come here.” … The meeting agenda is at Sedgwick County Commission, May 25, 2011.

Kobach on voter reform in Wall Street Journal. Today’s Wall Street Journal opinion section carries a piece by Kris W. Kobach, who is Kansas Secretary of State. The title is The Case for Voter ID: You can’t cash a check, board a plane, or even buy full-strength Sudafed over the counter without ID. Why should voting be different? In it, Kobach writes Kansas is the only state with all of these elements of voter ID reform: “(1) a requirement that voters present photo IDs when they vote in person; (2) a requirement that absentee voters present a full driver’s license number and have their signatures verified; and (3) a proof of citizenship requirement for all newly registered voters.” In support of the need for these reforms, Kobach provides evidence of the prevalence of election fraud. He also cites evidence that there is already widespread possession of the documents necessary to vote: “According to the 2010 census, there are 2,126,179 Kansans of voting age. According to the Kansas Department of Motor Vehicles, 2,156,446 Kansans already have a driver’s license or a non-driver ID. In other words, there are more photo IDs in circulation than there are eligible voters. The notion that there are hundreds of thousands of voters in Kansas (or any other state) without photo IDs is a myth.” … Some critics of these reforms fear that they will suppress voter turnout, and primarily that of Democratic Party voters. Kobach counters: “If election security laws really were part of a Republican scheme to suppress Democratic votes, one would expect Democrats to fight such laws, tooth and nail. That didn’t happen in Kansas, where two-thirds of the Democrats in the House and three-fourths of the Democrats in the Senate voted in favor of the Secure and Fair Elections Act. They did so because they realize that fair elections protect every voter and every party equally. No candidate, Republican or Democrat, wants to emerge from an election with voters suspecting that he didn’t really win. Election security measures like the one in my state give confidence to voters and candidates alike that the system is fair.” … The bill is HB 2067, and is the easiest way to understand it is by reading the supplemental note.

Tiahrt, former Congressman, to address Pachyderms. This week the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Todd Tiahrt, Former Congressman for the fourth district of Kansas, speaking on the topic “Outsourcing Our National Security — How the Pentagon is Working Against Us.” I suspect the prolonged decision process of selecting where the build the Air Force refueling tanker will be a topic. After the Pentagon awarded to contract to AirBus in 2008, which Boeing protested, the Wall Street Journal wrote: “The Pentagon’s job is to defend the country, which means letting contracts that best serve American soldiers and taxpayers, not certain companies. Defense Department rules explicitly state that jobs cannot be a factor in procurement and that companies from certain countries, including France, must be treated as if they are U.S. firms in contract bids. Such competition ensures that taxpayers get the best value for their money and soldiers get the best technology.” More on this decision is here. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Wichita speaker lineup set. The schedule of speakers for the Wichita Pachyderm Club for the next several weeks is set, and as usual, it looks to be an interesting set of programs. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club. Upcoming speakers are: On June 3, Nola Tedesco Foulston, District Attorney, Eighteenth Judicial District of Kansas, speaking on “An office overview and current events at the Eighteenth Judicial District of Kansas District Attorney’s office.” On June 10, John Allison, Superintendent of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, on “An update from USD 259.” On June 17, The Honorable Lawton R. Nuss, Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice on “The State of the Kansas Courts.” On June 24, Jim Mason, Naturalist at the Great Plains Nature Center will have a presentation and book signing. Mason is author of Wichita’s Riverside Parks, published in April 2011. On July 1, Jay M. Price, Director of the Public History Program at Wichita State University, speaking on “Classes of Values in Kansas History.” On July 8, Dave Trabert, President, Kansas Policy Institute, on “Stabilizing the Kansas Budget.”

Blue Ribbon Commission coming to Wichita. “Local residents will have an opportunity to voice concerns and offer suggestions on how to improve the state’s court systems during two public meetings next week in Wichita. A panel from the Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC), which was appointed by the Kansas Supreme Court to review the state’s court systems, will listen to public comments during the meetings at 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm, Thursday, May 26, 2011 at Century II, in Room 101, in Wichita. The BRC will examine ways to assure proper access to justice, the number of court locations, services provided in each location, hours of operation, the use of technology, possible cost reductions, and flexibility in the use of court personnel and other resources, and any other topic that may lead to the more efficient operation of our courts.” For more information, see the Blue Ribbon Commission Website.

School choice cast as civil rights issue. Star Parker, after citing the case of a homeless mother who falsified an address so her child could get into a good school: “Public school reality today for black kids is one that overwhelmingly keeps them incarcerated in failing, dangerous schools. It’s evidence of the indomitable human spirit that, despite horrible circumstances, many poor unmarried black mothers understand the importance of getting their child educated and will do whatever it takes to get their kid into a decent school. … But let’s not forget the bigger picture that the NAACP has consistently opposed school choice and voucher initiatives and has been a stalwart defender of the public school system that traps these kids and prohibits the freedom and flexibility that these mothers seek. … Generally, black establishment politicians and organizations such as the NAACP have defended government public schools and education status quo and sadly have hurt their own communities. Nothing contributes more to the growing income gaps in the country than disparities in education, and the impact continues to grow.” … A common choice of allowing widespread school choice is that poor and uneducated parents aren’t capable of making wise selections of schools for their children.

Medicare reform necessary. Wall Street Journal in Republicans and Mediscare: Paul Ryan’s GOP critics are ObamaCare’s best friends: “With ObamaCare, Democrats offered their vision for Medicare cost control: A 15-member unelected board with vast powers to set prices for doctors, hospitals and other providers, and to regulate how they should be organized and what government will pay for. The liberal conceit is that their technocratic wizardry will make health care more rational, but this is faith-based government. The liberal fallback is political rationing of care, which is why Mr. Obama made it so difficult for Congress to change that 15-member board’s decisions. Republicans have staunchly opposed this agenda, but until Mr. Ryan’s budget they hadn’t answered the White House with a competing idea. Mr. Ryan’s proposal is the most important free-market reform in years because it expands the policy options for rethinking the entitlement state.” The unelected board referred to is the Independent Payment Advisory Board. With its mission to reduce spending, some have aid this board is the feared “death panel.”

Science, public agencies, and politics. Cato Institute Senior Fellow Patrick J. Michaels explains the reality of cap-and-trade proposals in this ten minute video. If the Waxman-Markey bill was implemented, world temperature would be reduced by 0.04 degrees. That compares to a forecast increase of 1.584 degrees. If implemented worldwide by the Kyoto nations, the reduction would be 0.08 degrees worldwide. … Michaels says the growth in emissions by China eclipses anything we in America can do. … Michaels echos Dwight Esienhower’s warning that “we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite. The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.” He goes on to explain some of the dangers of “public choice science.”

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Thursday May 19, 2011

Kansas growth clusters. H. Edward Flentje, Professor at the Hugo Wall School of Urban and Public Affairs at Wichita State University: “For starters, the Brownback economic plan sends a mixed message; it argues against state policies that target incentives to the lucky few but then proceeds to target individuals moving to ‘rural opportunity zones’ for special income-tax breaks and payoffs of student loans.” The hope of the governor is that counties that have been losing population can be revived. But Flentje tells of the difficulties these rural counties face: “Rural Kansas relies much more heavily on state and federal assistance, and the cost of delivering essential public services to sparsely populated areas is substantially higher. Brownback’s preferred counties will be hammered disproportionately by his reductions in school finance and social services, and the limited amenities available in these areas will be further diminished by his cuts in public broadcasting and the arts, among other programs.” … The nostalgia for the glory days of small-town Kansas may not be in our best interests. In his paper Embracing Dynamism: The Next Phase in Kansas Economic Development Policy, which has influenced Governor Brownback’s economic policy, Dr. Art Hall wrote that productivity, which should be our ultimate goal, is related to population density: “Productivity growth is the ultimate goal of economic development. Productivity growth — the volume and value of output per worker — drives the growth of wages and wealth. Productivity growth results from a risky trial and error process on the front lines of individual businesses, which is why Kansas economic development strategy should focus on embracing dynamism — a focus virtually indistinguishable from widespread business investment and risk-taking. Productivity growth tends to happen in geographic areas characterized by density. This pattern shows up in Kansas. The dense population centers demonstrate superior productivity growth.”

Obamacare waivers go to Pelosi district. From Daily Caller: “Of the 204 new Obamacare waivers President Barack Obama’s administration approved in April, 38 are for fancy eateries, hip nightclubs and decadent hotels in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Northern California district. … Pelosi’s district secured almost 20 percent of the latest issuance of waivers nationwide, and the companies that won them didn’t have much in common with companies throughout the rest of the country that have received Obamacare waivers.”

SRS chief to speak in Wichita. This Friday (May 20) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Robert Siedlecki, who is Secretary of Kansas Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS). His topic will be “The SRS and Initiatives.” The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club. … Upcoming speakers: On May 27, Todd Tiahrt, Former 4th District Congressman, on the topic “Outsourcing our National Security — How the Pentagon is Working Against Us.”

Kansas welfare money gets around. From NBC Action News: “At a time when the number of people relying on public assistance continues to grow, millions of dollars worth of Missouri and Kansas welfare money is being spent all over the country, including states like California and Florida, and even as far away as Hawaii and Alaska.” Kansas funds were withdrawn from ATM machines on and near the Las Vegas gambling district, and there were “back-to-back withdrawals totaling $363 at a Disney World gift shop.” Kansas Watchdog’s Earl Glynn contributed to the NBC story, and offers his own reporting at Kansas out-of-state Electronic Benefit Transfer payments .

Kansas Bioscience Authority contract. Kansas Watchdog: “Tom Thornton’s contract as president of the Kansas Bioscience Authority shows a total pay, bonus and benefit package potentially worth more than $463,200 for fiscal year 2010. That’s more than four times Governor Sam Brownback’s $99,636 salary and $63,200 more than President Barack Obama’s salary. Media reports pegged Thornton’s pay and bonus at about $365,000, but a copy of his contract obtained through multiple sources by KansasWatchdog shows several incentive opportunities and a full breakdown of benefits.” … Thornton resigned from his position in April under criticism from legislators, and the local district attorney is conducting an investigation into unspecified matters. The legislature passed a bill divorcing funding of a federal project in Kansas from the KBA, so that questions about the KBA’s activities don’t jeopardize this funding.

Medicare reform explained. A video from Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation features Dan Mitchell explaining the necessity for reform of Medicare, and how it should proceed. Reform of Medicare is necessary, and it can go one of two ways: “Obama’s bureaucrats decide whether you get care” or we can put seniors in charge of their care and let markets — not government — lead reform. A market-based solution, as advanced by Paul Ryan, would let seniors select their own insurance, paid for by a voucher from the government. “Programs like Medicare are akin to a all-you-can-eat restaurant with someone else picking up the tab.” That’s a recipe for disaster, says Mitchell. Competition through markets — capitalism, in other words — can provide an increasing array of services of all kinds at lower prices, including health care for all. But capitalism is not allowed to flourish in health care markets, especially for seniors. … The voucher program for seniors has been characterized by liberals as “killing Medicare.” The present system will kill itself, as even President Obama acknowledges. The end of Medicare is not the end of health care for seniors, contrary to the lies of liberals. The benefit of market competition for seniors’ health care business promises better outcomes. For Wichita, which is betting on economic development through industry using composites to create products such as replacement hip joints, it is essential that such surgeries remain affordable enough that they are commonplace. The future of Obamacare, which is rationing, is not favorable for these prospects.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Wednesday May 11, 2011

Kansas Arts Commission layoffs. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has dismissed all the employees of the Kansas Arts Commission. Earlier this year, the governor issued an order disbanding the commission, but the Senate reversed that order. The House had withheld funding for the commission, but recently reversed its position and added funding. The action by the governor, along with his line-item veto power, appears to end the life of the commission. … Government-funded arts supporters used a number of arguments and an aggressive lobbying campaign to make their case for funding. In the end, their arguments are like that of most others who plead for government funding — “the special pleading of selfish interests” that Henry Hazlitt identified. He also wrote of “… the persistent tendency of men to see only the immediate effects of a given policy, or its effects only on a special group, and to neglect to inquire what the long-run effects of that policy will be not only on that special group but on all groups. It is the fallacy of overlooking secondary consequences.” For more, see Kansas governor should veto arts commission funding, Arts supporters make case in Kansas Senate committee, and Arts funding in Kansas.

Sculpture spending in Wichita. Yesterday the Wichita City Council voted four to three to spend $350,000 on a large sculpture at WaterWalk in downtown Wichita. The fact that the sculpture will be paid for with tax increment financing funds was used as an argument for proceeding with the expense, as the money is already allocated and can’t be used outside the TIF district. But, there’s nothing that requires the money be spent. … Council Member Michael O’Donnell said it is an “audacious” amount of money at a time of financial difficulty, and added that “I think it could set the arts back instead of propelling it forward because people would see that as a waste of government money.” He suggested tabling the idea until the economy improves as a way to “highlight fiscal responsibility that this council needs to show.” … If the benefit of the sculpture to WaterWalk is large, it seems that the WaterWalk developers would have an incentive to build it on their own. Except, being a public-private partnership, it’s sort of hard to tell where public subsidy ends and private ownership begins. … Not mentioned was the fact that the sculpture site is nearly next door to where the Wichita city manager owns a residence, and whether this requires that the spending and surrounding deliberations be handled in a special way.

How much more can we soak the rich? Writes Jennifer Rubin: In the wake of Osama bin Laden’s killing a significant tax story did not get much notice. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that “a new congressional study concludes that the percentage of U.S. households owing no federal income tax climbed to 51% for 2009.” After presenting some figures that illustrate the progressivity of the American income tax system, she concludes: “There are legitimate arguments about how progressive our tax system should be; at what level of taxation do we risk impeding economic growth and which goals we want to promote through the tax code (e.g. family economic stability, home ownership, investment)? But we should at least be clear on the facts and our starting point. We can’t solve the debt problem by grabbing more money from the rich. And we simply don’t have, as Obama asserts, a tax system that undertaxes the rich.”

School reform in Kansas, this year’s edition. From the Kansas Association of School Boards, on the major piece of school reform legislation this year: “HB 2191 passed 106-16. It will allow teachers to agree to extend their three-year probationary period by one or two additional years. The school board must provide a plan of assistance and give the teacher time to consider the special contract.” … Tinkering with the teacher tenure formula is all that has been accomplished this year regarding school reform. This is in a state that ranks very low among the states in policies relating to teacher effectiveness, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Wichita teacher cuts. Speaking of policies that work against teacher effectiveness: USD 259, the Wichita public school district has announced that it will reduce the number of teachers next year. The district’s contract with the union requires that teachers be laid off in order of seniority, so that new teachers are let go first. If the district was able to lay off their least effective teachers first, the district could end up with a smaller, but more effective, teacher workforce. … It might seem like automatically retaining the most experienced teachers is a beneficial policy. But research tells us that longevity in the classroom is not related to teacher effectiveness. One study found results that are typical: “There appear to be important gains in teaching quality in the first year of experience and smaller gains over the next few career years. However, there is little evidence that improvements continue after the first three years.” … Identifying effective teachers is something that many school districts have trouble doing, to the point where it makes one wonder if they are really interested in knowing. Kansas, as a state, has poor policies on evaluating teacher effectiveness. … The work rules that prevent school districts from dismissing ineffective teachers first are courtesy of the teachers unions, and are another reason why these institutions are harmful to the children they purport to serve.

Real estate to be topic at Pachyderm, followed by tours. This Friday (May 13) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features Craig Burns and Glenn Edwards of Security 1st Title Company speaking on the topic “Real Estate Transactions, Ownership, Title, and Tales From the Trenches.” Following the event will be optional tours at the Sedgwick County Courthouse for presentations by Bill Meek, Register of Deeds from 2:00 pm to 2:25 pm, Kelly Arnold, County Clerk from 2:30 pm to 2:55 pm, and Linda Kizzire, County Treasurer from 3:00 pm to 3:30 pm. … The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club. … Upcoming speakers: On May 20, Rob Siedleckie, Secretary, Kansas Social Rehabilitation Services (SRS) on the topic “The SRS and Initiatives.” On May 27, Todd Tiahrt, Former 4th District Congressman on the topic “Outsourcing our National Security — How the Pentagon is Working Against Us”.

Immigration. From LearnLiberty.org, a project of Institute for Humane Studies: “Is it true that immigration raises the U.S. unemployment rate? Is it true that immigration affects U.S. income distribution? The conventional wisdom says that both of these things are true. However, economist Antony Davies says there is evidence to suggest that they are not. Looking at the data, there is no relationship between the rate of immigration and the unemployment rate, nor is there a relationship between the rate of immigration and income inequality. Further, there is evidence to suggest that immigrants actually create more American jobs.”

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Monday January 31, 2011

Some downtown Wichita properties plummet in value. A strategy of Real Development — the “Minnesota Guys” — in Wichita has been to develop and sell floors of downtown office buildings as condominiums. Some of these floors have been foreclosed upon and have come back on the market. Some once carried mortgages of $400,000 or more, meaning that at one point a bank thought they were worth at least that much. But now four floors in the Broadway Plaza Building, three floors of the Petroleum Building, two floors of Sutton Place, and one floor of the Orpheum Office Center are available for sale at prices not much over $100,000, ranging from $14 to $25 per square foot. Other downtown office buildings — very plain properties — are listed at much higher prices. For example, one downtown property is listed at $82 per square foot. … Some of these floors have had declining appraisals. According to the Sedgwick County Treasurer, the fifth floor of Sutton Place, which is listed for sale at $135,000, was appraised in 2008 for $530,900. In 2009 the appraised value dropped to $215,000.

Kansas Days. The primary news made at this year’s Kansas Days gathering was the election of Todd Tiahrt to replace Mike Pompeo as national committeeman. Otherwise, there was a large turnout in Topeka with many receptions and meals that provided opportunities to meet officeholders and new friends, and to reacquaint with old friends from across the state. Plus, I got to sample the “Brownback” beer. It’s pretty good.

Williams named to national economic development committee. From Wichita Business Journal: “Wichita City Council member Lavonta Williams has been named to a National League of Cities steering committee on Community and Economic Development Policy and Advocacy.” Undoubtedly for her unfailing support of any form of corporate welfare that comes before the Wichita City Council.

Mises University this summer. If you’re a college student and would like to receive instruction in Austrian Economics — “a rigorous and logical approach to economics that gives free markets their due and takes full account of the reality of human choice” — I suggest applying to the Ludwig von Mises Institute to attend Mises University this summer. I attended as a member observer in 2007, and it was a wonderful and very intense week. For more information, click on Mises University 2011. Scholarships are available.

A Rosa Parks moment for education. Kevin Huffman in the Washington Post: “Last week, 40-year-old Ohio mother Kelley Williams-Bolar was released after serving nine days in jail on a felony conviction for tampering with records. Williams-Bolar’s offense? Lying about her address so her two daughters, zoned to the lousy Akron city schools, could attend better schools in the neighboring Copley-Fairlawn district. … In this country, if you are middle or upper class, you have school choice. You can, and probably do, choose your home based on the quality of local schools. Or you can opt out of the system by scraping together the funds for a parochial school. But if you are poor, you’re out of luck, subject to the generally anti-choice bureaucracy.” Kansas has no school choice programs to speak of, and so far Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has not expressed advocacy for school choice.

The state against blacks. The Wall Street Journal’s Jason L. Riley interviews economist Walter E. Williams on the occasion of the publication of his most recent book Up from the Projects: An Autobiography. The reason for the article’s title: “‘The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn’t do, what Jim Crow couldn’t do, what the harshest racism couldn’t do,’ Mr. Williams says. ‘And that is to destroy the black family.’” … On economics and why it is important, Riley writes: “Over the decades, Mr. Williams’s writings have sought to highlight ‘the moral superiority of individual liberty and free markets,’ as he puts it. ‘I try to write so that economics is understandable to the ordinary person without an economics background.’ His motivation? ‘I think it’s important for people to understand the ideas of scarcity and decision-making in everyday life so that they won’t be ripped off by politicians,’ he says. ‘Politicians exploit economic illiteracy.’” … On the current state of politics: “Mr. Williams says he hopes that the tea party has staying power, but ‘liberty and limited government is the unusual state of human affairs. The normal state throughout mankind’s history is for him to be subject to arbitrary abuse and control by government..”

Professor Cornpone. From The Wall Street Journal Review & Outlook: “The last time these columns were lambasted by a presidential candidate in Iowa, he was Democrat Richard Gephardt and the year was 1988. The Missouri populist won the state caucuses in part on the rallying cry that ‘we’ve got to stop listening to the editorial writers and the establishment,’ especially about ethanol and trade. Imagine our amusement to find Republican Newt Gingrich joining such company. The former Speaker blew through Des Moines last Tuesday for the Renewable Fuels Association summit, and his keynote speech to the ethanol lobby was as pious a tribute to the fuel made from corn and tax dollars as we’ve ever heard. Mr. Gingrich explained that ‘the big-city attacks’ on ethanol subsidies are really attempts to deny prosperity to rural America … Yet today this now-mature industry enjoys far more than cash handouts, including tariffs on foreign competitors and a mandate to buy its product. Supporters are always inventing new reasons for these dispensations, like carbon benefits (nonexistent, according to the greens and most scientific evidence) and replacing foreign oil (imports are up). … Given that Mr. Gingrich aspires to be President, his ethanol lobbying raises larger questions about his convictions and judgment.” Another advocate for the ethanol boondoggle, and perhaps again a presidential candidate, is Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.

Politics and city managers to be topic. This Friday (February 4) the Wichita Pachyderm Club features as its speaker H. Edward Flentje, Professor at the Hugo Wall School of Urban and Public Affairs, Wichita State University. His topic will be “The Political Roots of City Managers in Kansas.” The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm meetings. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Wednesdays in Wiedemann this week. Wednesday (February 2) Wichita State University’s Lynne Davis presents an organ recital as part of the “Wednesdays in Wiedemann” series. These recitals, which have no admission charge, start at 5:30 pm and last about 30 minutes. The location is Wiedemann Recital Hall (map) on the campus of Wichita State University. For more about Davis and WSU’s Great Marcussen Organ, see my story from earlier this year.

Government bird chirping. American Majority’s Beka Romm wonders about the wisdom of a mayor’s plan to broadcast bird songs on the city’s streets, and how we can decide whether government should be doing things like this.

Kansas and Wichita quick takes: Tuesday November 30, 2010

AFP to host climate conference event. This week the United Nations Climate Change Conference meets in Cancun, and Americans for Prosperity is taking its Hot Air Tour there. There are two ways to view this event: online, or by attending a watch party. There’s one in Wichita Thursday evening. Click on Hot Air Tour: Live from Cancun for more information and to register.

Christmas organ concert tomorrow. On Wednesday December first, Wichita State University Organ Professor Lynne Davis will present the First Annual Christmas Organ Concert. This event is part of the “Wednesdays in Wiedemann” series. Tomorrow’s program includes voice with Paul Smith, theater organ with Jim Riggs, and Christmas carols. These recitals, which have no admission charge, start at 5:30 pm and last about 30 minutes, although this special performance is scheduled to last 45 minutes. The location is Wiedemann Recital Hall (map) on the campus of Wichita State University.

Free exchange of ideas and gunfire at universities. Today’s Wichita Eagle carries a letter by a university teacher opposing the carrying of concealed guns on college campuses. One point the teacher makes is “And, ultimately, I don’t believe that universities can continue to foster the free exchange of ideas once they have been reconstituted as free-fire zones.” This idea, that concealed carry results in “free-fire” hasn’t been noticed, at least in Kansas. A Wichita Eagle article from last year, when the Kansas concealed carry law had been in effect for three years, reports no problems with the law. Firefights have not erupted in our streets as the result of the concealed carry law.

Charter school praised, then denied. The Center for Education Reform reports on how difficult it can be to start a charter school in some states: “You’d think that 1,600 pages of meticulously crafted curriculum, staffing, school philosophy and financial planning would at least give a prospective charter school a fighting chance. Not in Frederick County, MD. Being well prepared — not to mention a more than worthy option for local parents — just means that the education establishment will sharpen their swords even more to see that you are not approved to enter ‘their space.’ Last night, the Frederick County School Board unanimously voted to block the creation of the Frederick Classical Charter School, a school that would have offered kids there a real alternative and a classically based education. Though opposition heaped praise on the proposal, they did so as they cemented their arguments against it. And they did it just because — because they felt threatened, because they were working in their own best interest, and because they could. Maryland’s charter law is so weak (it has earned a ‘D’ in CER’s latest rankings — stay tuned) that only an overhaul will level the playing field for future options in areas outside Baltimore and more enlightened districts such as Prince George’s County.” More coverage is at Give charter a chance. Maryland, with a “D” grade for its charter school law, is better off than Kansas, which received an “F” from the same organization. It’s why few in Kansas try to start charter schools. The struggle in Kansas has even been reported on the pages of the Wall Street Journal, and in response a letter writer described the charter school laws in Kansas as “pseudo charter laws that still give local districts the power to block new schools.”

Solution to Kansas school funding. Wichita’s Brent Davis offers commentary on his blog about Kansas school spending and its advocates: “School funding advocates like superintendent Morton of Newton are clearly biased since they directly benefit from increased taxation for schools and yet there is no direct correlation in any available data of economic growth trending with educational expenditure.” Davis is in the education industry, so his opinion should be given consideration. The full article is on his blog at The Solution to Kansas’ Ed Funding Paradox.

Kansas school landscape. In an Insight Kansas editorial as presented at State of the State Kansas, Wichita State University professor H. Edward Flentje lays out the landscape of Kansas school finance and the surrounding politics. “In sum, the education article [of the Kansas Constitution] and related court action have moved duly elected state lawmakers — the governor and the legislature — to the sidelines in governing and financing public schools. Any agenda for educational reform will be subject to the liking of the state’s educational establishment and state court judges. Most state and local board members, school superintendents, public school teachers, and the statewide associations representing these interests, not to mention school finance litigators, prefer it this way.” He also — correctly in my opinion — forecasts a dim future for meaningful school reform in Kansas: “Evidence suggests this alliance will be slow to move on reform initiatives shaping the future of public schools, such as charter schools, merit pay, student assessment, and revision of school finance, among other issues.” … While incoming governor Sam Brownback has a plan for education reform in Kansas, it seems mostly focused on revising the school finance formula and a host of minor issues. Important reforms like charters schools and teacher merit pay seem to be missing from consideration at this time.

Tiahrt hearts committeeman position. According to the Kansas City Star’s prime buzz blog, outgoing Kansas Congressman Todd Tiahrt wants to swap positions with incoming Congressman Mike Pompeo, who has been a Kansas Republican national committeeman. According to the post: “Tiahrt said his chief motive for seeking the office is to ensure that Kansas Tea Partiers have a say. ‘I just want to make sure that when it comes to new ideas, the Republican Party doesn’t become the party of old, stodgy ideas, and that we are very receptive to this new movement and the ideas they bring.’”

Tiahrt, in close campaign, comes in second

At an election night watch party at the Hilton Hotel in Wichita, supporters of Todd Tiahrt in his campaign for United States Senate were encouraged by early returns from Sedgwick and Johnson counties.

Tiahrt led and won in the state’s two largest counties.

But as western Kansas votes started to be tallied, Jerry Moran‘s margin steadily increased as votes for the popular western Kansas Congressman rolled in. The Associated Press called the race for Moran.

At shortly after midnight, Tiahrt and his wife Vicki entered the hotel ballroom to rousing applause from his supporters.

“We want Todd! We want Todd!” chanted the crowd.

“Thank you very much. I love you guys,” said the candidate. He said we ran a strong campaign.

We have a great country, a resilient county, he said. “Lower taxes, smaller government — this is what Kansans want — and what we campaigned on.” He said that he won the third and fourth Congressional districts. The win by Tiahrt in Johnson County was unexpected by most observers.

He thanked his supporters and said he was sorry that he didn’t win.

Addressing the audience, Vicki Tiahrt thanked the supporters and volunteers. “We are winners tonight,” she said.

After his speech, Tiahrt said that his goal is to have a Republican Senator elected from Kansas, so he will be calling Jerry Moran to offer his congratulations and support. He also said he will work to make sure Mike Pompeo is elected to Congress as his successor.

He listed some of his accomplishments — the repeal of the Wright amendment, a new runway at the Wichita airport, grade separations in downtown Wichita, and the capture of the BTK serial killer — and said he had a good run in Congress.

He added that he believes that Pompeo will work as hard as he has.

Asked if he would consider running for other office he said it’s too early to think about that now.

Kansas Republican senate primary closer

A poll released today by KWCH Television in Wichita and SurveyUSA shows a closer contest for the Republican Party nomination for United States Senate from Kansas between Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt.

Moran has 49 percent support, while Tiahrt draws 39 percent. Two other candidates, one having withdrawn, shared five percent of the vote. Only six percent of voters are undecided according to this survey.

The pollster says that compared to two weeks ago, Moran is down one percentage point, and Tiahrt is up three. Tiahrt’s strategy to paint himself as the true conservative appears to be working, at least among conservative voters. Today he leads among conservatives by five percentage points, where two months ago Moran led by 21 percentage points in this group.

The poll notes potential trouble for Moran: “Most ominous for Moran: Among the 17 percent of voters who report they have already cast their ballots, Tiahrt is nominally ahead, 46 percent to 43 percent. Among those who tell SurveyUSA they are likely to vote, but have not yet done so, Moran leads by 13.”

If something were to happen on election day to suppress turnout, that would be bad news for Moran. Temperatures across Kansas are expected to top out at over 100 degrees tomorrow, but with little chance of precipitation or storms.

In this sampling of Republican voters who have either voted or are likely to vote, 63 percent of voters identified themselves as conservative, 29 percent as moderate, and five percent as liberal.

Kansas Republican Senate pollsKansas Republican Senate polls

Moran – Tiahrt opinion and reporting roundup, part two

Here’s some additional reporting and opinion on the campaign for the Republican Party nomination for United States Senate between Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt. An earlier collection is at Moran — Tiahrt opinion, reporting roundup.

Club for Growth gives slight nod to Tiahrt over Moran (Bob Weeks, Voice for Liberty) “Of the groups that analyze legislators and their votes, the Club for Growth produces a scorecard that focuses on votes relating to economic growth.”

Tiahrt, Moran vote ratings show slight difference (Bob Weeks, Voice for Liberty) “The campaign for the Republican Party nomination for the United States Senate from Kansas between Todd Tiahrt of Goddard and Jerry Moran of Hays is making national news. The issue is over who is the most conservative. A new article in U.S. News and Word Report states: ‘Both Tiahrt and Moran have portrayed themselves as fiscal conservatives, favoring lower taxes and less spending by the federal government.’”

Wichita could sway Senate race (Rick Plumlee, Wichita Eagle) “Is the U.S. Senate race really all about Johnson County? Doesn’t Wichita fit in there somewhere? The answers are yes and yes.”

Campaign mailings turn aggressive (Dave Helling and Steve Kraske, Kansas City Star) “Even in an Internet age of blogs and tweets, old-fashioned mailboxes this week are still packed with political messages that often contain the most aggressive and misleading claims anywhere.”

Candidate Profile: Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran (Ben Bauman, KTKA) “The two long-time GOP Congressmen are battling it out for the Senate seat being vacated by Sam Brownback, who’s running for governor. Tiahrt has been in the Congress one term longer than Moran. Tiahrt was elected in 1994, and Moran two years later. Prior to their elections to Congress, both served in the state legislature.”

What’s the Matter with Kansas Politics? Moore Questions about Moran. (Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online The Corner) “But here’s what I do know in the midst of the eleventh-hour campaign noise: In a post-Santorum Senate, the body can use as many courageous voices in defense of innocent human life as it can get. They’re losing one, with Sam Brownback’s leaving. That seat would remain filled with Tiahrt. (In fact, Tiahrt stood apart from even Brownback in opposing former Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius’s nomination as secretary of Health and Human Services, because of her ties to late-term-abortion provider George Tiller, who was later murdered.) That’s not to say Jerry Moran is not pro-life — Paul Moore stresses that he can’t and won’t make that claim. But he’s seen both candidates and knows which one’s the leader there.”

Moran, Tiahrt spar on trade vote: Moran denies quid pro quo allegation by Rove, Tiahrt (Tim Carpenter, Topeka Capital-Journal) “Tiahrt knows what it is like to be under the ethics spotlight in Washington. He was the subject of an investigation by a House panel regarding budget earmarks secured for his campaign contributors. He was cleared by the committee in February, but some evidence was forwarded to the U.S. Department of Justice by an arm of the House, the Office of Congressional Ethics. Likewise for Moran. The Office of Congressional Ethics decided in June to drop a review into whether Moran received improper gifts by paying below-market rent to live near the Capitol at a residence operated by a religious organization.”


Race sees character issue rekindle: As Moran-Tiahrt contest for Senate seat wraps up, they air old accusations.
(John Hanna, Associated Press) “Kansas Reps. Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt are returning to character issues they’ve long raised about each other as the end nears in their bitter race for the Republican nomination for an open U.S. Senate seat.”

Kansas’ often genial politics turns nasty in Senate race as GOP looks for conservative fighter (John Hanna, Associated Press) “The big issue in Kansas’ U.S. Senate race is which of two veteran Republican congressmen will fight hardest — and loudest — against President Barack Obama’s agenda. The fiery contest is unusual in a state where politicians are better known for being polite. It also underscores Republicans’ national strategy in 2010 — find candidates who’ll give Obama and his fellow Democrats no quarter whatsoever.”

Voting records tell how Tiahrt, Moran differ (Dave Helling, Kansas City Star) “Here are 10 important votes in the House since 2007 in which Tiahrt and Moran made different choices. The bills were picked by The Kansas City Star.”

Earmarks and Kansas elections (Bob Weeks, Voice for Liberty) “So how do the two veteran Kansas Congressmen rank on earmarks and ‘pork’ spending? The Club for Growth compiles a scorecard called the RePORK Card. This measures votes on ’68 anti-pork amendments’ in the 2009 Congress. Club Executive Director David Keating writes ‘The RePORK Card will help taxpayers measure the dedication of their representatives to changing the culture of corruption that surrounds pork-barrel spending.’ For 2009, Moran scored 96 percent, voting against 65 of the 68 measures. Tiahrt scored 29 percent, voting against 20 of the 68.”

Moran – Tiahrt opinion, reporting roundup

Here’s some reporting and opinion on the campaign for the Republican Party nomination for United States Senate from Kansas between Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt.

What Kind of a Senator? (Burdett Loomis, Kansas University political science professor) Tiahrt’s endorsements come from the party establishment, while “several of Moran’s most prominent backers are well-known senatorial gadflies,” writes Loomis in this piece that looks back at the last four elected senators from Kansas. Where I would quibble with him is in his claims that both candidates have “clearly satisfied their constituents.” With the approval rating of Congress at 11 percent, it’s hard to make a case that anyone in Congress is doing a good job, even though almost all members are reelected each cycle.

Pay attention to five factors in Moran vs. Tiahrt (Steve Kraske, Kansas City Star) “Cakewalk? Or a race so close that it turns your knuckles white, then red, then purple and blue? Those two forecasts are in play in the Jerry Moran-Todd Tiahrt war for the U.S. Senate that’s rapidly turning off Republicans all over Kansas.”

Millions going up in flame in Tiahrt-Moran race (Ric Anderson, Topeka Capital-Journal) “The latest campaign spending reports showed that Moran had plowed $3 million into beating Tiahrt in the primary election, while Tiahrt had spent $1.74 million. Come on, nearly $5 million to split hairs?”

Kansas GOP Senate hopefuls’ ads could help distinguish, but might backfire (Dave Helling and Steve Kraske, Kansas City Star) “In TV commercials now playing across the state, Republican hopefuls U.S. Rep. Todd Tiahrt and U.S. Rep. Jerry Moran are bitterly accusing the other of misinformation and distortion in the race’s final days. The ads feature all the familiar traits of televised political pitches: ominous music, grainy photographs, lots of small print and misleading claims.”

Gloves are off in Kansas U.S. Senate primary (Steve Kraske, Kansas City Star) “It’s one haymaker after another in the Republican primary race for the U.S. Senate in Kansas.”

Moran, Tiahrt join Tea Party Caucus (Rick Plumlee, Wichita Eagle) “Both Rep. Jerry Moran and Rep. Todd Tiahrt, two of three Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate in Kansas, have joined the newly formed Tea Party Caucus.”

Candidates decry tactics – Moran criticizes political survey; Tiahrt complains about mailings (Tim Carpenter, Topeka Capital-Journal) “Yvonne Starks turned down the volume of pundit Rush Limbaugh’s radio show Wednesday to articulate why listening to telephone polling in praise of U.S. Senate candidate Todd Tiahrt and critical of primary rival Jerry Moran determined her vote in the August primary. ‘That poll last night was the clincher,’ said Starks, a Republican Party activist from Olathe. ‘There were half-truths, contorted lies. That is despicable.’”

Bias cited in poll (MATTHEW CLARK, Pittsburg The Morning Sun) “Holly Friesen thought that it was no big deal to take a phone poll regarding this year’s primary campaign. But, after participating in the robo-call poll on Tuesday, Friesen, a Manhattan resident, had a completely different view of things.”

Tiahrt, Moran have raised $18 million over careers, much from big business (Fred Mann, Wichita Eagle) “Todd Tiahrt was first elected to Congress in 1994. Jerry Moran was first elected in 1996. Since then, between them, they have raised more than $18 million in campaign contributions. Those contributions give some insight into their bases of support.”

U.S. Senate candidates clash over who’s most conservative (George Diepenbrock, Lawrence Journal-World) “Both Jerry Moran, of Hays, and Todd Tiahrt, of Goddard, have criticized each other on issues including immigration, government spending and taxes, health care and what to do with terrorist suspects.”

Earmarks and Kansas elections (Bob Weeks, Voice for Liberty) “So how do the two veteran Kansas Congressmen rank on earmarks and ‘pork’ spending? The Club for Growth compiles a scorecard called the RePORK Card. This measures votes on ’68 anti-pork amendments’ in the 2009 Congress. Club Executive Director David Keating writes ‘The RePORK Card will help taxpayers measure the dedication of their representatives to changing the culture of corruption that surrounds pork-barrel spending.’ For 2009, Moran scored 96 percent, voting against 65 of the 68 measures. Tiahrt scored 29 percent, voting against 20 of the 68.”

Club for Growth gives slight nod to Tiahrt over Moran (Bob Weeks, Voice for Liberty) “Of the groups that analyze legislators and their votes, the Club for Growth produces a scorecard that focuses on votes relating to economic growth.”

Tiahrt, Moran vote ratings show slight difference (Bob Weeks, Voice for Liberty) “The campaign for the Republican Party nomination for the United States Senate from Kansas between Todd Tiahrt of Goddard and Jerry Moran of Hays is making national news. The issue is over who is the most conservative. A new article in U.S. News and Word Report states: ‘Both Tiahrt and Moran have portrayed themselves as fiscal conservatives, favoring lower taxes and less spending by the federal government.’”

Moran poll indicates big lead in Kansas Senate race

A poll in the race for the Republican Party nomination for United States Senate from Kansas conducted on behalf of the Jerry Moran campaign shows him leading his chief rival, Todd Tiahrt, by a large margin.

The survey shows Moran with 56 percent of the vote, and Tiahrt with 24 percent. 15 percent of voters are undecided, and two other candidates garnered four percent of the vote.

Independent polls have shown Moran with a large lead over Tiahrt. Recently the Tiahrt campaign released its own survey showing a very close race, with Moran holding a lead within the statistical margin of error of the poll.

The contest for this nomination has been heated. In recent forums, both candidates have scarcely paid attention to the moderators’ questions, instead using them as launching pads for attacks on the record of the other candidate.

The Moran poll, keeping in mind that it is an internal effort, contends that Tiahrt has been the most aggressive with negative campaigning: “Fully 44% of primary voters say Tiahrt is running a more negative campaign, with just 10% saying Moran has been more negative.”

Tiahrt has admitted that his commercials are a little “rough,” as he said at a recent rally in Wichita.

In response to the release of this survey, the Tiahrt campaign released a statement contending that “this internal poll from the Moran campaign is about as bad as Congressman Moran’s record on taxes, immigration and national security.”

As with all polls produced on behalf of a candidate, we need to remember that polls produced and released by campaigns are just that, and the results would probably not be released by a campaign if the results did not portray the candidate favorably. Without knowledge of the questions being asked, there is always the possibility that a poll is a “push poll,” meaning an instrument designed to influence participants and produce a desired result.

As it has been seemingly forever since Kansas last elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate, it is likely that the winner of this primary election will be the next senator from Kansas.

Reporting from the Wichita Eagle is at Tiahrt’s campaign objects to Moran’s in-house poll.

Tiahrt poll indicates closer Kansas Senate contest

A new poll shows Todd Tiahrt gaining ground on Jerry Moran in the contest for the Republican Party nomination for the United States Senate from Kansas.

The poll, which was conducted on behalf of the Tiahrt campaign, showed Moran with 37 percent and Tiahrt with 34 percent. 26 percent were undecided.

These results indicate a much closer contest than other polling. As the Wichita Eagle’s reporting noted, “Campaigns often don’t release internal poll results. It should be noted that they are undertaken by partisan polling operations and should be viewed in that context.”

Tiahrt also picked up an endorsement from radio talk show host and Fox News personality Sean Hannity. Hannity said “Sarah Palin endorsed him; Mark Levin endorsed him. A great protector of our Constitution, if you are out in Kansas, you’ve got to pay attention to Todd Tiahrt. He is pro-family, pro-Second Amendment. This is the kind of commonsense conservative we need in the US Senate. He’s never voted for a tax increase; He fought to end wasteful spending coming out of Washington. That’s the kind of guy we’re looking for.”

Earmarks and Kansas elections

The topic of earmarks is playing a role in contest for the Republican Party nomination for United States Senate from Kansas between Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran.

The United States Office of Management and Budget provides one definition of earmarks: “Earmarks are funds provided by the Congress for projects, programs, or grants where the purported congressional direction (whether in statutory text, report language, or other communication) circumvents otherwise applicable merit-based or competitive allocation processes, or specifies the location or recipient, or otherwise curtails the ability of the executive branch to manage its statutory and constitutional responsibilities pertaining to the funds allocation process.”

What is the difference between earmark spending and “regular” government spending? Speaking on the floor of the House in March 2009, Ron Paul, the libertarian member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas and Republican presidential candidate in 2008, made these remarks:

In reality what we need are more earmarks. Just think of the 350 billion dollars that we recently appropriated and gave to the Treasury Department. Now everybody is running around and saying, “We don’t know where the money went, we just gave it to them in a lump sum.” We should have earmarked everything. It should have been designated where the money is going. So instead of too many earmarks we don’t have enough earmarks. Transparency is the only way we can get to the bottom of this and if you make everything earmarked it would be much better.

This is a key distinguishing characteristic of earmark spending: legislators, rather than agencies like the Treasury Department, decide how and where the money is spent.

According to Taxpayers for Common Sense, earmarks are estimated to cost $11 billion in the current fiscal year (2010), which is down from $15 billion the year before. The Washington newspaper The Hill warns, however, that some of this decrease is due to a change in classification of some spending.

While some view earmarks and their elimination as a defining issue, we must remember that the level of earmark spending is relatively small compared to the entire federal budget. The 2010 budget calls for spending $3.55 trillion, so earmarks account for 0.3 percent of this amount. Considering discretionary spending only — and earmarks are discretionary — earmarks are 0.8 percent of $1.368 trillion planned discretionary spending.

This is not to say that this spending is not harmful and should not be eliminated.

Paul — accurately self-described as “America’s leading voice for limited constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, and a return to sound monetary policies” — defends his insertion of earmarks into appropriations bills. In an article titled Earmarks Don’t Add Up, Paul explained why:

The total level of spending is determined by the Congressional leadership and the appropriators before any Member has a chance to offer any amendments. Members’ requests are simply recommendations to allocate parts of that spending for certain items in that members’ district or state. If funds are not designated, they revert to non-designated spending controlled by bureaucrats in the executive branch. In other words, when a designation request makes it into the budget, it subtracts funds out of what is available to the executive branch and bureaucrats in various departments, and targets it for projects that the people and their representatives request in their districts. If a congressman does not submit funding requests for his district the money is simply spent elsewhere. To eliminate all earmarks would be to further consolidate power in the already dominant executive branch and not save a penny.

A spokesman for House Appropriations Chairman David Obey, a Wisconsin Democrat, was quoted in The Hill article as saying “Earmarks represent less than 1 percent of the federal budget, and they don’t add a dime to it — they are simply a way for Congress to direct funding that would otherwise be directed by administration officials.”

So here we have both liberal and conservative legislators defending the system.

It goes without saying that we need to reform this process. Currently, it allows members to say that since the money’s going to be spent somewhere, let’s spend it in my district. The motivation of members is that since their districts are taxed to send the money to Washington, they need to fight to get their districts’ fair share back — and some more, for good measure. This used to be one of the measures of success of a Congressman.

But the rise of federal spending and indebtedness has been one of the primary motivating factors of the tea party movement, and earmarks are a favorite target of conservative ire and anger.

So how do the two veteran Kansas Congressmen rank on earmarks and “pork” spending? The Club for Growth compiles a scorecard called the RePORK Card. This measures votes on “68 anti-pork amendments” in the 2009 Congress. Club Executive Director David Keating writes “The RePORK Card will help taxpayers measure the dedication of their representatives to changing the culture of corruption that surrounds pork-barrel spending.”

For 2009, Moran scored 96 percent, voting against 65 of the 68 measures. Tiahrt scored 29 percent, voting against 20 of the 68.

In the previous year for this project (2007), the two representatives’ scores were much closer: Moran scored four percent, while Tiahrt scored zero percent.

According to analysis by Taxpayers for Common Sense, Tiahrt was responsible for 13 “solo” earmarks in the 2010 budget, totaling $5,550,000 in spending. Moran was close behind with eight earmarks with a total value of $5,150,000. Solo earmarks are defined as “The total of earmarks on which only that member’s name appears.”

Considering solo earmarks and earmarks with other members, Tiahrt notched spending of $63,400,000, with Moran at $18,600,000. These earmarks are defined as “The total of earmarks on which that member’s name appears, either by itself or with other members. TCS does not split an earmark.”

In a recent forum of candidates for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the fourth district of Kansas sponsored by the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, candidates were asked about earmarks.

(The candidates and their campaign websites are Wichita businessman Jim Anderson, Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo, Latham engineer Paij Rutschman, and Kansas Senator Jean Schodorf.)

Rutschman said representatives want to do things that are in the interest of their states, but we should not pass earmarks that are detrimental to the nation.

Schodorf said that the appropriation process should be transparent, but that we need to cut spending today.

Anderson said that he is against earmarks, saying that the process provides for corruption of the political process. He would support legislation outlawing the process.

Hartman said he is totally against earmarks, noting that many people think that earmarks are good when they “make your grass turn green,” but a “bridge to nowhere” is different. He seconded Anderson’s concern about corruption.

Pompeo said he is against earmarks, saying that if “safe roads make good sense, we in Kansas can figure out how to fund them.” He agreed with concerns about corruption.

Olathe Republican straw poll produces wins by Tiahrt, Yoder

Yesterday’s Olathe Republican Party picnic featured a straw poll that provided insight into statewide and local races as Kansas nears its August 3rd primary. The annual event is very popular, and this year 430 people paid the $2 fee to participate in the straw poll.

Martin Hawver, dean of Kansas Statehouse reporters, describes the importance of the event: “The picnic/poll has been closely watched in recent years because Olathe is a conservative bastion and it tends to bring Republican politics into a comfortably conservative venue from which the party’s internal strife can be measured.”

Voters vote only once in the poll.

In the straw poll for the Republican Party nomination for United States Senate from Kansas, Todd Tiahrt outpolled Jerry Moran 315 to 112.

Tom Little of Mound City and Bob Londerholm of Overland Park, little-known candidates who filed close to the June 10th deadline, each received two votes.

Tiahrt’s numbers were undoubtedly boosted by the 69 folks who made a 178-mile bus trip from Wichita to Olathe courtesy of the Tiahrt campaign. Subtracting these leaves Tiahrt with a still-large victory margin of 246 to 112. These results are a boost to the Tiahrt campaign, as it is thought that northeast Kansas is a key battleground in this contest. Hawver’s caveat that Olathe is a conservative bastion must be kept in mind, as Tiahrt makes an explicit appeal to conservative voters.

Both Tiahrt and Moran — along with many members of their campaign staffs — attended the event. Moran had to leave the picnic before the speechmaking started to attend to his mother, who was recently diagnosed with leukemia. Kansas Senator Karin Brownlee, an Olathe Republican, spoke in Moran’s place. Tiahrt spoke in person, and his speech was enthusiastically received by the audience.

It is commonly thought that the winner of this August Republican primary election will cruise to victory in the November general election.

In the contest for race for the Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the third district of Kansas, the straw poll showed these results:

Kevin Yoder 156
Patricia Lightner 117
John Rysavy 55
Dan Gilyeat 52
Jean Ann Uvodich 23
Craig McPherson 7
Garry Klotz 5
Dave King 0
Jerry Malone 0

The winner of the primary will face the winner of the Democratic party primary, either Stephene Moore (wife of current officeholder Dennis Moore) or Thomas Scherer.

In these straw polls, it is common for campaigns to pay the poll fee ($2 for this poll) for their supporters. In this case, the Yoder campaign went a little further, distributing free coupons that, when turned into a Yoder campaign representative, would let a family avoid paying the $10 admission fee. It is not known how many of these tickets were used, and other campaigns may have done the same.

In Kansas, Sarah Palin chooses Todd Tiahrt

Yesterday former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin endorsed Todd Tiahrt for the Republican Party nomination for United States Senate from Kansas.

Tiahrt’s opponent is Jerry Moran. It is commonly thought that the winner of this August Republican primary election will cruise to victory in the November general election.

Palin’s endorsement, which can be read on her Facebook page, reads as follows:

I’m happy to endorse Todd Tiahrt’s campaign to be the next U.S Senator from Kansas. Todd is a protector of our Constitution, a pro-family, pro-Second Amendment Commonsense Conservative who has never voted for a tax increase and has fought to end the wasteful spending coming out of Washington. He didn’t just stand on the sidelines complacently, but instead actually battled against the bailouts, the debt-ridden stimulus spending, the cap-and-tax energy schemes, and Obamacare. In fact, remember on the day Obamacare was being debated, Todd Tiahrt was on the House floor all day working to defeat it, and he’s helped lead the charge to repeal and replace Obamacare the moment it was signed into law. We can count on Todd to take on the liberal spending agenda of the Obama administration and fight for lower taxes, more individual freedom, and less government intrusion.

At a meet-and-greet opportunity yesterday evening, Vicki Tiahrt, wife of the candidate, said the campaign was pleased with the endorsement.

Palin’s endorsement has been a benefit to most candidates she has endorsed. A recent Time Magazine article noted that “her record in tightly contested races [is] 8-3 overall this midterm election year.”

The most recent public poll in this race is from May, and showed Moran leading by 52 percent to 29 percent.

Kansas news digest

News from alternative media around Kansas for June 25, 2010.

Public sector grows along with KPERS dependency

(Kansas Liberty) “Between April 2008 and April 2010, the private sector in Kansas has experienced an overall loss in jobs of approximately 5.89 percent, while the public sector has experienced an overall gain in employment of approximately .83 percent. … As the public sector and its salaries continue to grow, so does the dependence on the state’s pension plan, KPERS.”

Kansas working toward implementing aspect of Obamacare

(Kansas Liberty) “The Kansas Department of Insurance is working with the federal government to create a temporary high-risk insurance pool, in accordance with regulations set forth by the new federal health-care law. High-risk insurance pools are designed to provide coverage for residents with pre-existing conditions who are unable to find coverage elsewhere. The temporary high-risk pool will operate until 2014, when the law prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to those with preexisting conditions.”

Budget cuts hit small towns harder, KC Fed reports

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas government’s continuing financial jam may threaten the economic recovery of the state’s small town and rural communities, according to a new analysis published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.”

Researchers debate number of student dropouts

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – By one count, slightly more than one in 100 students drop out of school; by another count, only 75 students out of 100 actually receive diplomas. Trying to figure out the number of students in Kansas who have graduated high school, versus the number that have dropped out before graduation is tricky and confusing business.”

Info about Ethics Commission meeting not found by attending

(Kansas Watchdog) “On Tuesday the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission held their monthly meeting in Topeka. The agenda for the meeting was a bit curious: The plan was for a 15-minute session that started at 11:45, followed by a 30-minute session 90 minutes later.”

Business Owners Ask Kansas Courts to Stop Smoking Ban

(Kansas Watchdog) “Owners of private clubs and bingo operations have asked the courts to stop the statewide smoking ban (HB2221) from taking effect July 1. Attorney Tuck Duncan Friday filed a motion to intervene in a temporary injunction sought by Michael Merriam to stop implementation of the ban while courts hear claims that the ban violates various U.S Constitutional rights.”

Tiahrt and Moran Trade Shots Over Support for Federal Bailouts

(State of the State KS) “The Tiahrt (R) and Moran (R) campaigns traded shots Wednesday over the issue of government bailouts with Tiahrt firing the first shot saying Moran was misleading voters when Moran said claimed he never voted for a bailout.”

Opinion by Senate President Stephen Morris – The 2010 Legislative Session: Keeping Our Promises to Kansans

(State of the State KS) “The 2010 Legislative Session is now officially history. When this chapter of the Kansas story is written, it will go down as perhaps the most significant since the Great Depression. In fact, the challenges facing lawmakers this year were unprecedented. As we enter the election season, you may hear a lot of misinformation about what actually happened in Topeka this year; I would like to set the record straight.”

Response by Americans For Prosperity to Opinion Article by Senate President Steve Morris

(State of the State KS) “The recent letter to the editor submitted by Senate President Stephen Morris caught my attention. He claims passing the largest sales tax increase in Kansas history was the ‘only responsible way’ to address the budget shortfall. A shortfall he blames on an ‘economic crisis.’”

Club for Growth gives slight nod to Tiahrt over Moran

Of the groups that analyze legislators and their votes, the Club for Growth produces a scorecard that focuses on votes relating to economic growth.

The Club for Growth describes itself as “a national network of thousands of pro-growth Americans, from all walks of life, who believe that prosperity and opportunity come through economic freedom. We work to promote public policies that encourage a high growth economy and a swift return to America’s founding principles primarily through legislative involvement, issue advocacy, research, training and educational activity.”

Each year the Club for Growth produces a scorecard for both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate that ranks members on their votes, based on the Club’s judgment of which votes distinguish between legislators who believe in pro-growth policies and those who don’t.

The Club warns of limitations of scorecards like these, including my own Kansas Economic Freedom Index: “A study of roll call votes on the floor of the House and Senate and legislative actions is just that. It can not account for a lawmaker’s work in committee, advocacy in his party’s caucus meetings, and effectiveness as a leader in advocating pro-growth policies.”

That caveat aside, let’s look at how the Club ranked members of the Kansas House delegation, particularly Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran. These two are candidates for the Republican party nomination for the U.S. Senate. It is commonly thought that the winner of this August Republican primary election will cruise to victory in the November general election.

One of the themes in the election — promoted especially by the Tiahrt campaign — is who is the most conservative candidate. So the Club for Growth scorecard is an important measure for someone promoting conservative, pro-growth credentials.

On the Club’s scorecard for 2009, Tiahrt earned a rating of 90 percent, which ranks him 64th among members of the U.S. House according to Club for Growth’s criteria.

Moran scored 85 percent, which ranks 94th.

(A higher rating means more votes in alignment with the Club’s positions. Other Kansas House members are the second district’s Lynn Jenkins, a Republican from Topeka, who scored 87 percent, ranking 83rd, and Democrat Dennis Moore of the third district in northeast Kansas, who scored four percent with a ranking of 297th. On the Senate rankings, Sam Brownback scored 85 percent, ranking 24th among the 100 members of the Senate. Pat Roberts scored 93 percent, ranking 19th.)

Is this difference between Tiahrt and Moran significant? That question, of course, must be answered by each voter. To help voters decide, I examined the Club’s scorecard and listed the votes where the two Congressmen voted differently. This is not a comprehensive examination of their voting records that would find all votes that were different. It only looks at the votes in the Club’s scorecard that are different.

The Club for Growth’s scorecard looked at 24 votes. Following are the votes where Tiahrt and Moran voted differently. Information on the bills is from Govtrack.us.

H.R. 12: Paycheck Fairness Act
“To amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide more effective remedies to victims of discrimination in the payment of wages on the basis of sex, and for other purposes.”

Moran voted in favor of the Club’s position, while Tiahrt was absent for this vote. On a scale of one to ten that the Club uses to gauge the relative importance of votes, this bill was given a weight of one, meaning that it was judged relatively unimportant, relative to others.

H.R. 2: Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009
“To amend title XXI of the Social Security Act to extend and improve the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and for other purposes.”

Tiahrt voted in favor of the Club’s position, while Moran voted against it. This bill was weighted four on the scale of one to ten of relative importance.

H.R. 3435: Making supplemental appropriations for fiscal year 2009 for the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Program
“Makes emergency supplemental appropriations of $2 billion for FY2009 and FY2010 to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the Department of Transportation (DOT) for the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Program (Cash for Clunkers Program)”

Moran voted for the Club’s position, while Tiahrt voted against it. This bill was weighted two on the one to ten scale of relative importance.

H. Res. 806: Providing for the concurrence by the House in the Senate amendment to H.R. 1035, with an amendment
“Sets forth the rule for consideration of the Senate amendment to H.R. 1035 (Morris K. Udall Scholarship and Excellence in National Environmental Policy Amendments Act of 2009)”

Tiahrt voted in favor of the Club’s position, while Moran voted against it. This bill was weighted one on the scale of one to ten of relative importance. The meaning of this resolution is obscure.

H.R. 3639: Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act of 2009
“To amend the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 to establish an earlier effective date for various consumer protections, and for other purposes.”

Tiahrt voted in favor of the Club’s position, while Moran voted against it. This bill was weighted two on the scale of one to ten of relative importance.

These are the only votes that differ between the two candidates. The Club’s scorecard also takes into account other factors, such as points awarded by the National Taxpayers Union (Tiahrt earned five; Moran three), and points awarded for not sponsoring anti-trade bills (Tiahrt and Moran both earned four points)

The scorecard also includes points awarded based on the Club’s RePORK Card, which scores legislators on how they voted on legislation that the Club considers to be pork-barrel spending. Tiahrt’s score of 29 percent earned him zero points, while Moran’s score of 96 percent earned two points.

The scorecard also separately considered H.R. 1321: Healthy Americans Act, “To provide affordable, guaranteed private health coverage that will make Americans healthier and can never be taken away.” Tiahrt and Moran voted the same on this measure.

While Tiahrt scores higher overall than Moran on the Club’s scorecard, it is not a consistent trend across all votes and measures.

Tiahrt rally features Rove endorsement

On Saturday, about 300 supporters of Todd Tiahrt gathered in a steamy hot airport hanger in Wichita to hear the Congressman and his guest, political strategist and commentator Karl Rove. Rove enthusiastically endorsed Tiahrt’s candidacy for the United States Senate from Kansas, one of only two such endorsements he said he is making.

Tiahrt’s best-known opponent in the August 3rd Republican primary is first district Congressman Jerry Moran of Hays. Tom Little of Mound City and Robert (Bob) Londerholm of Overland Park have also recently filed for this nomination.

Speaking before Rove, Tiahrt said that the tea party movement has been successful in some elections, and he is proud to be associated and endorsed by Tea Party Express and Kansas groups like the 9.12 group and Icaucus.

He said that although he’s been campaigning for 18 months, the real campaign is just beginning. He said some of his televisions ads are “a little rough,” because “we need to tell the truth.” Tiahrt told the audience that he’s never voted for a tax increase, while his opponent has, adding that he favors the Fair Tax.

Tiahrt called for regulatory reform, saying that for manufacturing in America, regulation adds 17 percent to costs. Cutting that in half would make America more competitive.

He said we need to get health care back “into our hands,” adding that a free market system would lower the costs and give more choices to patients and doctors.

He told the audience that energy independence is important for putting Americans back to work.

Finally, he said that litigation reform is important, saying that America has more lawsuits than any other country. Although not opposed to lawyers — noting that his daughter is an attorney — he said there are too many lawyers in Congress. He let the audience know that Moran, his opponent, is a lawyer.

Rove said that he is endorsing only two candidates in the Republican Senate primary elections — Tiahrt and Marco Rubio of Florida.

He said that he knows and has worked with both Tiahrt and Moran, and that’s why he’s endorsing Tiahrt. He called Tiahrt a “principled conservative,” saying that although you may disagree with him, you always know he comes to a conclusion because he thinks it’s right.

Referring to Moran’s statement criticizing Rove as a Washington insider, Rove told the audience that Moran went to Washington five years before he did.

He told a story about working with Moran on an issue, trying to get his vote. The Kansas City Star’s Steve Kraske reported this based on an interview with Rove earlier in the day:

In the interview, Rove was particularly harsh on Moran for how the congressman approached a 2001 bill on trade promotion authority that Rove said was aimed at knocking down trade barriers and would have helped Moran’s rural western Kansas district.

Rove said Moran tried to cut a deal on the bill, offering to back it, but only if the president or Commerce Secretary Don Evans agreed to come to Kansas to help Moran raise campaign money.

Rove said the idea was ridiculous because Moran already had a big cash-on-hand total and likely wouldn’t face a serious opponent. Moran was from one of the safest Republican districts in the nation.

It was, ‘What’s in it for me?’” Rove said of Moran. He said Moran told him, “You’ve got to give the president to me in a safe Republican district or the secretary of commerce to me in a safe Republican district to do a fundraiser.”

The Bush team eventually pressed a North Carolina Republican to vote for the bill, which resulted in its narrow passage.

Referring to Moran, Rove told the Wichita crowd that it is the Washington insider that says “I’m not doing what’s right for my state or my people, or my district, unless you give me something.”

The Moran campaign released a statement that read, in part: “Karl doesn’t like Jerry Moran because Jerry stood up to him. Karl’s job was to line up votes to pass the President’s agenda and while Jerry agreed with much of the Bush agenda, he put his foot down against major increases in spending and government bureaucracy, like opposing No Child Left Behind.”

Rove said that we have important battles to fight, and we need to put forth the best team: “We need people who will go there and do the tough things that are necessary to put our country on the right path again.”

In questions after the speeches, Tiahrt said he was honored to have someone with the knowledge and stature of Rove endorse him. On why he is the “real conservative” in this race, Tiahrt said conservatism is his core value, and that he is not an election-year conversion, mentioning an Almanac of American Politics description of Moran’s voting record as “moderate.”

Rove said that in order to win this election, Tiahrt needs to tell Kansans what he would do and believes in, and contrast that with the record of his opponent.

Rove said that the tea party movement is a grass roots movement driven by concerns about government spending, deficit, and debt. He said that Tiahrt’s record in Congress fits in with the tea party philosophy.

I asked Rove if he thought it was possible for Republicans to take majorities in the House or Senate this year. Rove said that for the Senate, the Republicans would have to keep every seat that is up for election, and then win many Democrat seats., noting that Republicans have twice as many seats up for election as do Democrats. He said he believes Republicans will gain more seats in both chambers than the historical average since World War II in mid-term elections like this.

I asked if a conservative strategy was the best strategy in the third congressional district in Kansas (Wyandotte and Johnson counties, and part of Douglas county), noting that the district had elected blue dog Democrat Dennis Moore to several terms and moderate Republicans before that. Tiahrt said that he believes a majority of Johnson County voters are conservative. Rove said that Moore didn’t get out of the race “because he thought conservatism was on the wane in the third district.” He added that Moore had been saying he was a blue dog Democrat, but then voted for liberal policies in Congress.

When I asked what it means that Moore’s wife Stephene is running for the office, Rove said “It means he’s got better political judgment than she does.”

I asked if the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is Obama’s issue, or will it impact Congressional races? Rove said that it will impact the midterm races indirectly because it impacts the president’s popularity, adding that in midterms, the president’s job approval and the unemployment rate are two of the biggest drivers in voting. “That’s why Democrats lack enthusiasm and Republicans have intensity, because of what President Obama’s done in office.”

I mentioned a recent Wall Street Journal editorial by Fred Barnes, which leads with this sentence: “In Washington these days, President Obama is rumored to be hoping Republicans capture the House of Representatives in the midterm election in November.” The idea is that “If Mr. Obama wants to avert a fiscal crisis and win re-election in 2012, he needs House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to be removed from her powerful post. A GOP takeover may be the only way.” Would a Republican takeover of the House lead Obama to a Clinton-style presidency, since the GOP took control of Congress in 1994, Clinton’s first midterm election?

Rove said that Clinton was a centrist to begin with, and therefore was able to work with a Republican Congress. He said we haven’t seen this ability in Obama.

I asked Tiahrt if he would endorse one of the fourth district Republican Congressional candidates, and he said no, he trusts the voters to decide.

More coverage from State of the State KS is at Karl Rove Endorses Todd Tiahrt, Takes Shots At Jerry Moran.

Tiahrt, Moran vote ratings show slight difference

The campaign for the Republican Party nomination for the United States Senate from Kansas between Todd Tiahrt of Goddard and Jerry Moran of Hays is making national news. The issue is over who is the most conservative. A new article in U.S. News and Word Report states: “Both Tiahrt and Moran have portrayed themselves as fiscal conservatives, favoring lower taxes and less spending by the federal government.”

The Washington insider publication The Hill recently wrote of the “internecine fight for the GOP Kansas Senate.”

Merriam-Webster defines internecine as “of, relating to, or involving conflict within a group,” which might describe any contested political primary election. But this one is turning in to something resembling the other definition given: “marked by slaughter: deadly; especially: mutually destructive.”

Perhaps the reason why this campaign is turning negative is that on many issues, there just isn’t much difference between the two candidates and their voting records. Looking at vote rankings from several sources can help us see this.

One respected source of vote ratings is National Journal. Some Tiahrt supporters are using a chart of National Journal vote ratings on Facebook, showing their approval of Tiahrt’s performance in these ratings.

Tiahrt and Moran vote ratings from National Journal

The chart shows Tiahrt with a more conservative vote rating in years past, but converging to nearly identical values last year. The chart shows Moran moving in the more conservative direction, while Tiahrt, after three years of less-conservative ratings, moving to a more conservative rating.

National Journal produces three ratings for each legislator, based on votes on economic, social, and foreign policy issues. The number I plotted in the chart is the average of the three values for each year. In its own method of producing composite scores for 2009, National Journal gives Tiahrt a score of 85.3, and Moran gets 84.3.

In terms of where they rank in order, Tiahrt is the 54th most conservative voter, and Moran is the 64th.

For 2009, the average composite score for Republican members of the U.S. House was 79.4, ranging from 57.8 to 94. So while Tiahrt and Moran rank as more conservative than average, neither are anywhere near the top, in terms of conservative voting according to National Journal.

Other organizations produce vote ratings too, such as the American Conservative Union. In these ratings, Tiahrt and Moan have the same, or nearly same score in all years except 2007, when Tiahrt had a more conservative rating. For the period shown, Tiahrt’s average score is 92.5, and Moran’s is 91.3.

Tiahrt and Moran vote ratings from American Conservative Union

From Americans for Tax Reform, we find a mixed picture. For the period shown, the average rating for Tiahrt is 94.6, and for Moran, 90.3.

Tiahrt and Moran vote ratings from American for Tax Reform

Do these relatively small differences in vote ratings amount to a true distinction between the candidates? While Tiahrt generally earns the more conservative rating, the differences are so small that voters will want to make sure they take into account other factors when they decide who to support.

Kansas News Digest

News from alternative media around Kansas for May 21, 2010.

Light withdraws bid for re-election: Will others follow?

(Kansas Republican Assembly) “State Representative Bill Light withdrew his candidacy for re-election to the Kansas House May 12. Light was facing a strong conservative challenge in the August primary by Dan Widder of Ulysses.”

Historic sales tax increase and nanny-state laws mark the 2010 session in Kansas

(Kansas Liberty) “So far Gov. Mark Parkinson has signed into law a total of 149 bills, and Parkinson now has until May 28 to take action on any remaining bills that were passed by the Legislature during the veto session. Parkinson has not allowed any bill to become law without his signature at this time and has vetoed two bills. Conservative Republicans in both chambers were largely overpowered yet again in the 2010 legislative session by a coalition of left-wing Republicans and Democrats which has managed to retain the majority in both the House and Senate.”

Kansans exposed to tax hike starting July 1

(Kansas Liberty) “Starting July 1, Kansas residents can expect to start paying 19 percent more in sales tax so that the state government can continue to spend at the level deemed appropriate by Governor Mark Parkinson, left-wing Republicans and Democrats in the Kansas Legislature. Small-business advocates said the coalition of ‘tax and spend’ legislators ‘did not want to believe there was an alternative’ to a tax hike.’”

Kansas survey: 10,000 new ‘green’ jobs by 2012

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – The environmentally conscious ‘green’ movement has the potential to create 10,000 new jobs in Kansas by 2012, according to a new state survey released Tuesday.”

Tax package means go-head for giant Kansas freight hub

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Legislation approving Kansas’ recently voted 1-cent sales tax increase will trigger construction this year of a controversial Johnson County intermodal rail freight hub, the Kansas Department of Transportation said Tuesday. KDOT and developers of the long-planned 1,000 acre rail-truck shipping center and logistic park complex along Interstate 35 in Edgerton said they reached an agreement in which the state will provide a $35 million grant to BNSF Railway in exchange for a pledge to begin work on the project this year.”

Kansas lawmakers touch tax and budget records

(Kansas Reporter) “A new analysis by the Kansas Legislative Research Department of the final budget lawmakers sent to the governor calculates that state general fund spending will increase 3.8 percent, or about $204.5 million, to $5.6 billion in the fiscal year beginning July 1. That total is the second largest in recent record, topped only by $6.06 billion of state general funds spent in fiscal 2009. All-funds spending, which includes federal and special revenue funds as well as state general fund money, is projected to decrease in 2011 to $13.7 billion, a more than 5 percent reduction from the recent record $14.4 billion reached this year.”

Planned Parenthood Urges Governor To Veto Huelskamp’s Ban of Federal Funding For Services

(State of the State KS) “Planed Parenthood supporters came to the capital Wednesday to deliver petitions to Governor Parkinson, urging him to veto part of the state budget that would make Planed Parenthood ineligible for federal funding.”

Governor Parkinson Says Budget Puts Kansas On The Right Path For Next Four Years

(State of the State KS) “Governor Mark Parkinson (D) held a press conference Wednesday where he reflected on the 2010 legislative session. In his State of the State address in January, Parkinson called on the legislature to protect education, social services and public safety, to pass a comprehensive transportation plan and to bring improvements to nursing homes across the state. Parkinson said legislators stepped up, protecting 150 years of progress in Kansas an bringing jobs to the state.”

Tiahrt and Moran Trade Shots on Earmarks and A New Poll Shows Increasing Support In Senate Race

(State of the State KS) “The Tiahrt and Moran campaign sparred over earmarks last week with both agreeing that the original intent of bringing federal dollars for local needs was good, but Washington now needs earmark and spending reform.”

Former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane Speaks Out On Support for Mike Pompeo

(State of the State KS) “Former White House National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane came out swinging for Mike Pompeo (R) this weekend, responding to a story in the Wichita Eagle. McFarlane is a leader on national security issues, working in the Ford and Reagan administrations. The Eagle article highlighted a Pompeo fundraiser hosted by McFarlane, calling him a ‘D.C. big name’ and cited fellow Congressional campaigners saying McFarlane’s support made Pompeo a Washington insider.”

Kansas House passes ‘Lexie’s Law’

(Kansas Watchdog) “After passing the 1% increase in sales tax very early Tuesday, the Kansas House at 2:15 AM addressed HB 2356, otherwise known as Lexie’s Law. The purpose of the bill was to improve inspections of child care facilities in Kansas after preventable deaths had occurred.”

Watchdogs talk about Investigative Journalism

(Kansas Watchdog) “On Saturday at the American Majority Post-Party Summit held in Kansas City, Missouri two of the sessions were about investigative journalism. These sessions were to encourage citizen journalists to get more involved in keeping government at all levels — federal, state, county, local — more accountable.”

Senator Brownlee’s official protest of budget bill

(Kansas Watchdog) “The true energizing power in an economy is the productivity and ingenuity of its people when they are freed from excessive government taxation and regulation to provide for their families. We have lost sight of the fact that there is not a public or government sector without a healthy private sector. Too many times this session we have heard a legislator postulate that government spending in some manner helps save our economy. If this were actually true, our economy should be overheating with all of the overspending by states and the federal government.”

New report outlines Kansas consequences of health reform

(Kansas Health Institute News Service) “TOPEKA – The likely consequences of federal health reform for Kansas are detailed in a new report scheduled for public release Tuesday during a meeting of the Kansas Health Policy Authority board.”

Budget and taxes decided, Legislature leaves

(Kansas Health Institute News Service) “TOPEKA — After four months of struggling with the issues of budgets and taxes, the Legislature finished its work today and concluded all but the ceremonial end of the 2010 session.”

Kansas news digest

News from alternative media around Kansas for March 5, 2010.

Teacher Tenure Under Review In Effort to Reduce School Costs

(State of the State KS) “A House committee heard testimony on a bill Wednesday that would lengthen the period of time public school teachers must work to five years before eligible for tenure.”

KPERS Committee Considers Early Retirement for Employees To Save Money

(State of the State KS) “The House KPERS committee considered a bill Tuesday that would encourage early retirement for some government workers to save costs.”

Kansas Democrats Focus on 2010 Elections at Washington Days

(State of the State KS) “Kansas Democrats gathered to celebrate and campaign at Friday and Saturday’s Washington Days in Topeka.”

Smoking ban proponents pull out bag of tricks to get bill passed, casino exemption included

(Kansas Liberty) “In the near future, Kansas residents will be forced to comply with a statewide smoking ban, which has received the support of both chambers of the Kansas Legislature. Today, the House voted 68-54 to concur with the conference committee agreement reached between select members of the House and the Senate.”

Day-care bill puts too much government in the home, opponents say

(Kansas Liberty) “Tammi Hill, owner of the Peace of Mind Home Child Care Center in Olathe, has been brought to tears of frustration over a new piece of legislation which is currently in the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee. Senate Bill 447 would create several new restrictions for day care providers, including regulations on how long children can take using the bathroom, how long a provider can speak with a parent, and how long a provider can spend with any inspector that may drop by the ensure the care center is in compliance with regulations.”

Cigarette tax increases reported to bring negative outcomes

(Kansas Liberty) “Americans for Prosperity-Kansas has launched a new web page dedicated to informing Kansas residents about how an increased cigarette tax could cost the state revenue, instead of bringing in additional revenue as suggested by the Democrats.”

Wichita School Board Attempts to Explain Budget, Seeks Priorities

(Kansas Watchdog) “About 400 people attended a Board Night Out at Wichita’s West High School Monday evening. A similar number attended another forum at Wichita’s Southeast High School. USD259 Wichita Board of Education President Barbara Fuller, board member Lanora Nolan and Superintendent John Allison attended the West High gathering and offered their assessments of the decisions facing the district because of the ongoing state budget crisis.”

Tiahrt, Others Exonerated in Ethics Probe

(Kansas Watchdog) “The Associated Press is reporting that Kansas Congressman Todd Tiahrt has been exonerated in an ethics probe of his connections with defense lobbying firm PMA and its clients. The probe found no violations by Tiahrt or five other members of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. The late John Murtha (D-Pa.) topped the list of who received large donations from PMA Group and its clients and steered earmarks to PMA clients.”

Kansas revenues sag deeper into crisis territory

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – February’s $71 million tax collection shortfall dropped Kansas revenues for the month deeper into budget crisis territory, legislative researchers reported Thursday.”

Kansas’ bid for federal school money rejected

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas’ first round application for a slice of $4.35 billion in new federal education stimulus money has been rejected, but education officials say they plan to try again in a second round next June. The Kansas State Department of Education said it learned Thursday that it is not among 16 finalists selected to receive grants under the Obama administration’s Race to the Top plan for educational reform.”

Kansas tax committee sends $169 million increase to House

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas House Taxation Committee members reluctantly voted Tuesday to raise $169 million in new taxes by requiring homeowners and renters to a pay 5.3 percent sales tax on their water, electric and natural gas bills that are now tax-exempt.”

Costly Kansas tax credit needs more money, panel told

(Kansas Reporter) “TOPEKA, Kan. – A controversial business tax credit once flagged as a drain on Kansas’ budget needs more money to help create jobs in Kansas, backers told a Kansas House Taxation committee Wednesday. Opponents, however, argued that removing a state lid on Kansas Historical Preservation tax credits, which last year were lopped by more than half their previous levels, would perpetuate the inefficient use of taxpayer money and give the recipients an unfair advantage over competitors who aren’t similarly subsidized.”

Foster care system criticized, defended

(Kansas Health Institute News Service) “Sadie Carpenter said no one ever told her why she and her husband weren’t allowed to adopt their great granddaughter. Marilyn Dilley said she and her husband were never told why they couldn’t adopt a boy they’d cared for as foster parents.”

Wichita winter tea party: it’s inside this Saturday

Kansans For Liberty is hosting a tea party this Saturday February 20 at Century II Exhibition Hall. It starts at 1:00 pm.

Lynda Tyler, the organizer for this event, says that there are two levels to this event: A stage with organizations, candidates, a forum, ending with keynote speaker Apostle Claver.

The other level is the decorated tables around the outside of the room representing organizations and campaigns from all over Kansas.

The event is free to the public. There will be raffles for flags, baskets, dinners to Mike’s Steakhouse, and two tickets to see Sarah Palin at the Intrust Bank Arena in May. Raffle tickets are $1.00 each or 3 for $2.00. The door prize drawing is for two tickets to the VIP Round Table breakfast with Mike Huckabee on February 24th at 8:15 that morning.

There is an after rally VIP Fundraising Dinner with Apostle Claver at Whiskey Creek Steakhouse. Tickets for this event are $50.00.

Radio personality Paul Ibbetson, host of “The Conscious of Kansas” on Wildcat 91.1 in Manhattan, will emcee the event.

Candidates for the United State Senate Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran will address the crowd early in the event.

Insurance Commissioner candidate David Powell will speak, followed by Dr. George Watson speaking on health care issues facing America Today.

The Independence Caucus group will explain their vetting process that will help voters understand the various positions and views of the candidates who have gone through the process. They will also introduce the congressional candidates who have gone through this process and where you can find the results online.

The Fair Tax KC group will be here with a plan to eliminate the IRS.

There are two state sovereignty organizations coming that have been instrumental in the push for Kansas to send a resolution to Washington DC so that we will no longer tolerate the federal government stepping on the constitutional rights of the states and their citizens.

Kansas Libertarian Party chairman Andrew P. Gray will speak on the party’s 2010 plans and activities.

The Great American Forum will take about an hour to showcase the U.S. Congressional Candidates for the 4th District.

The keynote speaker is “Apostle Claver” T. Kamau-Imani, founder and chairman of www.ragingelephants.org He is a dynamic speaker whose mission includes getting people to “Vote their values — not a party.”

KansansforLiberty.com has details and more information, including a list of the organizations confirmed to be at the Winter Rally.

‘Keeping Kansas Conservative’ forum with Joe the Plumber, Todd Tiahrt, Mary Pilcher-Cook

A news release from the Great American Forum.

WICHITA, KS – On Friday, January 29, 2010, the Great American Forum Steering Committee will host its fifth public forum. The forum will feature Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher “Joe the Plumber,” who made his appearance on the national radar during the last presidential campaign. He believes that elected officials should be held accountable for what they say and what they do. ep. Todd Tiahrt and Kansas Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook will complete our panel. This forum will focus on the core beliefs of the Great American Forum. These principles are limited government, low taxes, personal responsibility, strong national defense, and the obligation to protect every human life from conception to natural death.

WHO: Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher “Joe the Plumber,” U.S. Representative Todd Tiahrt, Kansas State Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook
WHAT: Keeping Kansas Conservative Great American Forum
WHEN: January 29, 2010 from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm
WHERE: Ramada Inn, 420 SE 6th Avenue, Topeka, KS 66607

Admission is free for this event. For more information, please contact Event Chairman Ben Sauceda at 316-640-2065 or GreatAmericanForum@gmail.com. Honorary Chair of the Great American Forum is Mrs. Vicki Tiahrt.

Tiahrt to address Wichita Pachyderms

This Friday, United States Representative from the fourth district of Kansas Todd Tiahrt will address the members and guests of the Wichita Pachyderm Club. Tiahrt is running against Jerry Moran for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate from Kansas. Moran will speak at the same event one week later.

All are welcome to attend Pachyderm club meetings. The program costs $10, which includes a delicious buffet lunch including salad, soup, two main dishes, and ice tea and coffee. The meeting starts at noon, although it’s recommended to arrive fifteen minutes early to get your lunch before the program starts.

The Wichita Petroleum Club is on the ninth floor of the Bank of America Building at 100 N. Broadway (north side of Douglas between Topeka and Broadway) in Wichita, Kansas (click for a map and directions). Park in the garage just across Broadway and use the sky walk to enter the Bank of America building. Bring your parking garage ticket to be stamped and your parking fee will be only $1.00. There is usually some metered and free street parking nearby.

Tiahrt gains endorsement of Rick Santorum

Yesterday former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum appeared in Wichita to endorse the candidacy of Todd Tiahrt for the Republican party nomination for the Senate.

Santorum said he’s not often taken time to travel to help candidates, especially in primary elections. Referring to the “critical juncture” that he believes our country faces, with a president and Congress that are grabbing power through health care and cap-and-trade legislation, he said we need a solid conservative in the Senate to oppose Obama and the Democrats in Washington.

Todd Tiahrt, he said, has a great conservative record of not only opposing bad things, but “coming forward with good, solid, principled conservative ideas to solve problems not just here in Kansas, but across this country.”

Answering a question about the differences on the issues between Tiahrt and Jerry Moran, his primary election opponent, Santorum said “Todd speaks out.” He’s been a strong economic conservative who believes in limited government, understanding that markets solve problems better than government. He also said Tiahrt recognizes a strong military is needed to protect America’s security.

On the future of the health care bill in the U.S. Senate, Santorum said it’s going to take some time to work through the Senate, and the current bill that contains the public option will be tough to pass, given Senator Joe Lieberman’s stated opposition to such a bill. The Senate is unlike the House, he said, as in the Senate, one member can block passage of legislation.

Referring to the unpopularity of Obama’s programs, particularly the health care bill, Santorum said that in many respects, Obama has already sacrificed his majorities in Congress. The election of 2008 was not a realignment, he said, but a rejection of incompetence of the last administration.

On Obama’s absence from the ceremonies marking the anniversary of the end of the Berlin Wall, Santorum said “He is insensitive to the importance of our traditional allies.” The tyrannies that we fought in the past — the Soviet Union — are now appearing in different parts of the globe. Their motivations are different, but we must confront the same evil. “Going to Berlin and standing where Reagan stood would identify him [Obama] with policies he doesn’t agree with.”

Tiahrt endorsed by popular conservative figure

Yesterday, former Secretary of Education and Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Bill Bennett endorsed Todd Tiahrt‘s campaign for the United States Senate in a Wichita appearance.

Bennett said there is not an oversupply of good people in Washington, and when they’re found, we should elect them to higher office. Tiahrt is such a person, he said. He also praised Tiahrt’s character and integrity.

In other remarks, Bennett said that these are consequential times. 2010 will be an important election year and will tell us a lot about the mood of the public. Last year’s election was of historical consequence, but now it is time to govern, he said.

In response to a question about the concerns of callers to his conservative radio show, he said that people are concerned about the direction of the country. People have a sense that we drifting, and not only since the election of President Obama. He said that the major concern is not individual issues such as gay marriage, abortion, or guns, but the general status of the United States of America.

As Bennett served as Education Secretary under Ronald Reagan, I asked a question about the Obama’s administration’s support of charter schools and differential or merit pay for teachers. Charter schools are good, and so is merit pay, he said. But if merit pay means what it has in a few experiments across the country — “give us the money first, and then we’ll figure out some system of merit” — he wouldn’t be in favor of it.

He also said it “rings a little hollow” for the administration to talk about school choice when it is closing down a school choice program in Washington, D.C.

Politically, this endorsement should give a boost to the Tiahrt campaign. Bennett is a respected statesman and very popular with conservatives.

Wichita Eagle reporting of this event is at Bennett endorses Tiahrt for US Senate. Topeka Capital-Journal reporting is at Bennett backs Tiahrt’s Senate bid.

Kansas Senator Dick Kelsey Announces for Congress

On Friday Kansas Senator Dick Kelsey announced that he is a candidate for the United States Congress. Kelsey seeks the seat presently held by Todd Tiahrt, who is running for United States Senate. The Wichita Eagle covered the announcement in the story State Sen. Dick Kelsey to run for Tiahrt’s congressional seat.

A question I asked Kelsey afterwards is if Tiahrt will endorse a successor. Kelsey said that he doesn’t believe Tiahrt will make an endorsement, and he doesn’t think he should. Tiahrt, he said, needs every friend he can get in his run for the Senate.

What about the primary between Tiahrt and Jerry Moran? Many Republicans want to avoid this primary. Kelsey said that a positive primary will not hurt, and in response to my suggestion, said that a spending limit would be great.

Todd Tiahrt on the Kansas Senate Primary

At Friday’s meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm Club, United States Congressman for the fourth district of Kansas Todd Tiahrt was the speaker. Dion Lefler of the Wichita Eagle covered Tiaht’s speech in the news story Tiahrt offers thoughts on Obama, stimulus to Wichita Pachyderm Club. After the meeting I spoke to the congressman and asked a few questions.

One topic that seems to be on the minds of many Republicans is the desire to avoid a prolonged primary battle for the United States Senate seat between Tiahrt and Kansas first district congressman Jerry Moran. I asked Tiahrt if it’s important to avoid this conflict.

“Everybody that’s concerned about that ought to get on my team right away. That would be the most significant thing that would eliminate a primary.” Tiahrt added that people are looking for someone who gets the job done. He said that I’m the one who gets the job done, and that our senators come to my office, not Moran’s, when things need to get done in the House.

I asked if he and Rep. Moran could come to some agreement to avoid a messy primary, perhaps expenditure limits. Tiahrt would not make a commitment to such an agreement unilaterally and said “I’m going to do what it takes to win.” Voters in Kansas have a right to know the records of both candidates, he said, and limiting resources might limit his ability to get out the message.

Many local Republicans are expressing interest in replacing Tiahrt in Congress. So does he have a favorite? “We have a lot of quality candidates” was his diplomatic response.

Todd Tiahrt to Speak at Wichita Pachyderm Club

On Friday February 6, 2009, United States Congressman for the fourth district of Kansas Todd Tiahrt will speak at a meeting of the Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Rep. Tiahrt is a candidate for the United States Senate. His congressional district includes Wichita and most of south-central Kansas.

The club meets at the Whiskey Creek Steakhouse in Old Town, at 230 N. Mosely. The meeting starts at noon, but it is suggested to arrive early.

Is Boeing tanker “victory” good for America?

A Wall Street Journal editorial from March 18, 2008 (Patriot Tanker Games) argued that calls on Capitol Hill for “patriotism” in defense procurement are misguided. Leaders of this call include Kansas’s very own Todd Tiahrt and Pat Roberts.

These politicians say that allowing an important American defense system to be built in partnership with a European firm is dangerous for America. In testimony to the defense appropriations subcommittee Rep. Tiahrt stated “I am outraged by this decision to outsource our national security … We are stacking the deck against American manufacturers, at the expense of our national and economic security.”

But the Journal editorial sees clearly through the haze: “What’s really going on is a familiar scrum for federal cash, with politicians from Washington and Kansas using nationalism as cover for their pork-barreling … The modern aerospace biz is an increasingly global affair, and more than half of the Northrop/EADS tanker (by value) will be made in America. Much of Boeing’s tanker would also have been built outside the U.S.”

If the tankers are built by Boeing that means more jobs for Wichita, which Tiahrt represents. Bringing home jobs and pork, it seems, are one of a United States Congressman’s most important jobs. But as the Journal editorial points out, the Defense Department has broader responsibilities: to American taxpayers across the country, and to American soldiers. If the Pentagon believes the Northrop/EADS tanker proposal is best for American security and taxpayers, on what basis can Todd Tiahrt, Pat Roberts and the rest of the Kansas congressional delegation object?

Every congressman and senator wants to do for their district or state what Tiahrt and Roberts are doing for Wichita and Kansas. This desire leads to never-ending battles for a share of federal spending. Spending is often allocated based on political considerations instead of reason.

The Journal editorial is absolutely correct when it concludes that “Protectionists in Congress want to make America’s soldiers wait even longer for this new equipment, all to score political points at home. There’s a word for that, but it’s not patriotism.”

Earmarks and pork thoroughly established

In a letter printed in the February 22, 2008 Wichita Eagle, Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Tom Winters, along with Wichita State University President Don Beggs, praised some Kansas congressmen for being “very effective Washington advocates for south-central Kansas.” What the congressmen — Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard, and Kansas Sens. Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts — did was to “roll up their sleeves and work on many issues that help improve our quality of life in the Wichita area.” Sounds like a noble cause, doesn’t it?

What the three congressmen did was to secure federal funding for several projects deemed important to Chairman Winters and President Beggs. In other words, they brought home the pork to Wichita in the form of earmarks. This is why efforts to reform earmarks and pork barrel spending have failed and are likely to continue to fail. Evidence of this is Tom Winters, as I believe that he would describe himself as fiscally conservative, yet he praises his congressmen when they bring home the pork.

Rep. Todd Tiahrt recently sent me a newsletter by email titled “It’s Time to End Wasteful Spending.” It told me of his goal “to find and create solutions that will benefit Kansas taxpayers.” He’s done just that, according to the letter from Winters and Beggs, and in the past too.

In 2004 the Wichita Business Journal reported on two projects where Rep. Tiahrt brought home funding to his district. One was a computer-aided dispatch system for Sedgwick County’s 911 system. The other was a grant to the Wichita Art Museum. Neither recipient of the earmarks, the director of Sedgwick County’s Emergency Communications Department and the director of the Wichita Art Museum, thought the spending qualified as pork. Most pork recipients feel the same.

Then there’s Tiahrt’s earmark for the BTK investigation. As reported in Human Events: “Tiahrt, according to ‘The Almanac of American Politics,’ has bragged that one of the ‘top 10 most gratifying things I’ve done’ is securing $1 million in an omnibus appropriations bill for the Wichita Police Department to investigate the ‘BTK’ killer.”

That’s the way it usually is. The recipients of the earmarked pork barrel spending believe the need is urgent, the cause worthy, and a federal earmark is justified. It seems that everyone across the country believes this about their own pet projects.

To Rep. Tiahrt’s credit, he has voted for earmark reform measures. But his behavior and that of our two senators, Roberts and Brownback, is to continue to bring home earmarks and pork for the good of the folks back home.

And who can blame them, really? After all, we pay taxes to the federal government. Shouldn’t we get something back? Even Ron Paul gets earmarks for his congressional district. Should Rep. Tiahrt turn down earmarks, his political opponents would have his hide for failing to look out for the needs of his district.

But with these attitudes, earmark reform will never succeed, and pork barrel politics will never end.

Rep. Todd Tiahrt and BTK

Congressman Todd Tiahrt has secured $1 million for use by the Wichita Police Department in the omnibus appropriations bill that goes before the House of Representatives on Monday.

The bill has already passed the Senate, Tiahrt spokesman Chuck Knapp said, and approval by the House is expected to be a formality.

While there are safeguards in place to make sure the money is used for certain purposes, Knapp said, “we’re just not able to comment on the details of the funding.” — From “BTK ‘clues’ breed theories” in The Wichita Eagle, December 2, 2004.

Here The Wichita Eagle reports that U.S. Representative Todd Tiahrt secured one million dollars from the federal government to help pay for costs related to the investigation of the BTK serial killer. Rep. Tiahrt was widely praised for this.

We should remember where that money came from. It didn’t fall out of the sky. It wasn’t free. It came from the taxpayers of the entire country. I suspect that many people in Wichita thought it was good that we got the nation as a whole to pay for the BTK investigation.

But think about what had to happen behind the scenes. Rep. Tiahrt must have lobbied for the money. Then the federal government collected tax money, only to send it back to Wichita. That, right there, is inefficient. A bureaucracy had to exist to perform that.

Then, of course, Rep. Tiahrt and Wichita aren’t the only ones looking for a federal handout. When other cities or states receive money in this way — a special payment to one locality for a special project — we in Wichita call it pork barrel spending. That’s exactly what Rep. Tiahrt engaged in to get us the money for BTK. He should be ashamed, and we should not laud him for it.